Tuesday, May 25, 2010

6 Multiple Choice Question Writing Mistakes

We found this article on Making Change: Ideas for lively elearning. It demonstrates some pretty clear (and humorous) fallacies when designing multiple choice questions. We think that any of these can apply to writing questions for your game show as well.

[Italics are from the article, commentary is ours]

Can you answer these 6 questions about multiple-choice questions?

1. I opened a course on a topic I know nothing about, clicked through without reading anything, and took the assessment. I passed! What does that suggest?

  1. I am a genius!
  2. The assessment was too easy.
  3. Maybe the course was too easy, too.
  4. Maybe the course didn’t even need to be written.
  5. b, c, and d

2. In a multiple-choice question, when is the longest answer the correct answer?

  1. Rarely
  2. Sometimes
  3. It’s almost always the correct answer, and it’s often stuffed with new information that should have gone in the main part of the course but we forgot so now we’re putting it in the quiz because we can’t possibly leave out the tiniest detail
  4. Occasionally

3. When is “All of the above” the correct answer?

  1. With alarming regularity
  2. When we try to cover too much in one question
  3. When we use a question to teach instead of assess
  4. All of the above

4. When is it NOT a good idea to avoid negative questions?

  1. Never
  2. Sometimes
  3. Always
  4. What?

5. How often is the correct answer a?

  1. Usually
  2. Frequently
  3. Often
  4. Almost never, because if a is the right answer, then the learner doesn’t have to read all the other options we spent so much time writing and revising, and where’s the ROI in that?

6. We can confuse learners when we:

  1. fail to actually complete the sentence we started in the question.
  2. inconsistent grammar in the options.
  3. sometimes we veer off into another idea entirely.
  4. wombats.

How did you do?

When writing your game show questions, it's incredibly important to write good questions. When questions are too easy or difficult, unclear or otherwise, it can stall out game play.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Game shows as a "serious game" solution.

The term "serious game" has been floating around a lot lately. There has been much in-industry debate about what, exactly, constitutes a "serious game" (Versus a training game? Versus a plain ol' game?). Some argue that serious games are digital by their nature, others purport that serious games are really simulations or 3D environments. Some say that any kind of activity that is engaging for a serious purpose is a serious game, others say that the activity has to be directly related and utilizing the content at hand.

So what is a serious game? Wikipedia says:

A serious game is a game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. The "serious" adjective is generally appended to refer to products used by industries like defense, education, scientific exploration, health care, emergency management, city planning, engineering, religion, and politics.

So where do game shows fit into the realm of serious games? Surely, the primary purpose (or original purpose) of a game show was to entertain. This is true if we think about the game shows that came with the early days of television--they were friendly competitions meant to test the wit of competitors, entertain, and bring the family games that everyone knew and loved from around the dining room table onto the new medium of television.

However, a game show's frivolous beginnings become irrelevant when they are re-purposed as serious games for absolutely every topic in every area of training.

Why do game shows make such strong serious games?

  • Their roots as (international) cultural fixtures make them a format that many trainees can identify with. (This also gives them a very short learning curve.)
  • They allow peer groups to work collectively--capitalizing on a trend of collaboration in the workplace.
  • They utilize both individually motivated and peer-motivated competition.
  • They are infinitely adaptable for content. Since most game shows are based on trivia/questions and answers, training material inserted into a game is a natural fit.
  • They can be played in traditional classroom settings, in large events, online or in webinars.
  • They are simple to produce, don't usually require much additional setup or programming and anyone can be a game show host.

These reasons put game shows solidly in the serious games camp. Of course, game shows can still be used as entertainment--heck, there is even value in doing an entertaining game in a training session (to give people a brain break, re-energize the room, break the ice, etc.)--but there is a huge potential for game shows in the serious games realm with very serious subjects.

Game Show Minute May 2010

Believe it or not, we occasionally find resistance to using game shows--based solely on the fact that they are a game show. Here are ways of overcoming the game show bias and getting buy-in.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Training Design with the Game Show in Mind: P&G Case Study

LearningWare's 16-plus years of experience being directly involved with training design and the training industry has enabled us to provide solutions above and beyond simple game show software.

Proctor&Gamble (P&G) came to us with interest in Gameshow Pro, initially. They held a week-long training course for interns transitioning to full time positions in the marketing department (called ABM College), and were looking to review and reinforce (dry) content in a way that would appeal to a younger generation.

They knew they had to engage the troops with interaction, and that game shows were the right direction to go. However, they needed guidance to incorporate games into the 5-day training program. We consulted with the head trainers at P&G to develop a program that fully engaged their trainees throughout the ABM College.

  • Designed a team competition that utilized Gameshow Pro and other activities to keep everyone engaged—with a stake in learning the information.
  • Streamlined the content and organized it into learner-friendly chunks.
  • Worked with presenters on making each individual portion interactive and engaging.
  • Developed a comprehensive production guide.
  • Consulted on all aspects of the training including presentation graphics, signage, course materials, and pre- and post- communication.
  • Were on site at the first rollout to make sure that all the activities went off smoothly and the team competition was organized.
Gameshow Pro was utilized heavily throughout; we had "Branding Feud", a Categories-style "FMOT/SMOT Challenge" and many other game rounds either before or after a presentation to preview and review content.

Result: P&G elicits feedback after every ABM College. The change in format and interaction brought on a dramatic increase in the feedback scores for the event. Participants loved the games and team activities, and felt they got a lot out of their week.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Competition is Key

We're often asked (and we often ask ourselves) what--exactly--makes game shows such effective training tools. They're undeniably and unarguably engaging and effective, but what makes them so compelling?

There are several components that go into a game show that make it an incredible training tool, such as:

• Interaction
• Utilizing questions
• It's a change of pace
• Capitalizing on multimedia
• Etc.

But one of the single largest components that make game shows more effective than, say, a traditional oral question-and-answer review or a poll, is competition. There's something in our DNA, in the heart of how we live and work that makes competition appealing. Perhaps it came from the caveman days when we competed for natural resources and now plays out in gentler, less primitive ways.

The act of competing makes our brains secrete adrenaline, and adrenaline works to fuse memory. Competition also generates emotion--another memory-making component. These elements combined allow game shows to pack a powerful punch and have great training impact where content retention is concerned.

Competition factors in multiple ways during a game show:

Team competition: When placed on a team in a game show, you're no longer just individually responsible for your performance, you're also collectivistically responsible for the success of your team. This peer pressure can be incredibly motivating and can also add a great teambuilding/networking dynamic in the training class.

Self-motivated competition: Even casually watching a game show on television, most people will find themselves playing along. It's not as if we get prizes for answering a question on Jeopardy! correctly, but we play along for the sake of our own self-knowledge and satisfaction. We compete with ourselves.

Competition against others: A game show is a vehicle for friendly competition. A participant competes against others to ring-in first, competes to give the most correct answer, and competes to get the most total points. This competition generates discussion, desire to play another game, and a focus on the content at hand. It's also an incredibly motivational way to interact within a training session.

While there isn't any one single element that makes game shows successful, it's pretty clear that competition is one of the more powerful elements in making them an incredibly effective training tool.